Life with kids is nothing but unpredictable. And that is part of the joy of it, but also a significant challenge.
Parents, especially young and first-time parents, often find themselves struggling to attend to their kids’ burst of emotion and inattentiveness. At times, it can be frustrating, both for the parents and for the kids.
On one side, the conflict for every parent is whether to lose your cool or hit your pause button? As for the kids, the unexpected and seismic outbursts are often the result of their inability to make adults understand what they feel or need.
To roar or to rear—mindfully? As important as it is to adults, mindfulness is equally essential for kids. Many parenting tips out there outline what to do in the tantrum episodes; how to practice mindfulness in the wake of the storm or inattention of the kids.
Mindfulness is beneficial for adults. Mindfulness allows us to be present in our parenting. Instead of succumbing to our dread emotions, it will enable us to choose an appropriate response.
In the same way, mindfulness is also beneficial for kids. Instead of focusing on things that parents should do when kids throw a tantrum or show inattentiveness, wouldn’t it be better if we could avoid all this together?
What Is Mindfulness, and Why Do Kids Need It?
Simply put, mindfulness is living in the present.
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment, as mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn put it. It is about letting all the judgments go and living intentionally.
Mindfulness is a great tool to help you manage your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It is beneficial both to adults and to kids.
In this unprecedented world we currently live in, it is difficult to escape from depression, stress, anxiety, and any of its sorts. As a parent, it is your sole responsibility to prepare your child for what is yet to come.
Teaching mindfulness to your kids at an early age can help them learn to deal with various stressors, both now and as they get older.
According to an emerging body of research, mindfulness can help kids improve their ability to concentrate. Mindfulness also allows kids to make better decisions and to calm down when they are upset. In short, it helps them with emotional regulation and cognitive focus.
How to Instill Mindfulness in Your Kids?
So, where do we start? How can we teach mindfulness to our kids? Of course, there are some practical ways and activities kids of any age can practice to learn to be mindful of themselves and their surroundings. But the most vital aspect of teaching mindfulness is the one teaching.
As a parent, anything starts with you.
1. Mirroring mindfulness
Mindfulness is not something that you can outsource. You would have trouble teaching your kids ballet if you had never danced. You would have a problem teaching your kids to play soccer if you had never been out there in the field.
To teach mindfulness authentically, you need to practice it yourself. The best way to teach your kid to be mindful is to embody the practice oneself. Children see, children do, as the saying goes.
You may start by slowly incorporating a five-minute meditation into your daily life. Since parenting can be an incredibly stressful experience, many experts have begun to recognize that meditation reduces stress and anxiety, thus helping to make some positive changes in your parenting game.
2. Managing your expectations
Are you expecting mindfulness to eliminate tantrums? Or are you expecting a quieter house quiet or a calmer active child? If so, you are likely to be disappointed. Of course, calmness and a silent, serene home are good. But they are not the ultimate purpose.
As a parent, you need to understand that mindfulness is not a panacea. It won’t stop your kids from being what they are: kids. It won’t get rid of the tantrums and whining and arguing and loudness and cries. It simply won’t.
The purpose of teaching mindfulness to our kids is to give them a chance to express themselves; learn about their emotions; speak and listen to their voices; recognize when their attention has wandered, and provide impulse control tools. Mindfulness is only a tool and a means, not the end itself.
If these two things are clear to you, we can start talking about what you can do to instill mindfulness in your child. There are a lot of things you can do, sure. But we will start with something small and simple. Let us begin with something as mundane as dressing up and picking up clothes to wear.
And this time, let us start letting kids dress themselves.
Should Parents Let Kids Dress Themselves?
It is usual for parents to be controlling of their kids. It simply means we rightfully shoulder the responsibility to protect our child.
While it is our responsibility to keep our kids on the right track, we also need to learn how to let loose and start relinquishing control where we should.
As a responsible adult, you cannot let your kids wear wildly inappropriate or hardly fit clothes, nor should you let them wear dirty or raggedy outfits.
While there is a particular line that you should draw, letting your kids dress themselves can be rewarding in both the short and long run.
The following are some of the reasons why you should let your kids pick out their clothes and dress themselves all by themselves.
1. Raising their self-esteem
It is only natural for us to showcase our identity in the way we dress. This phenomenon remains the same for your kids.
Letting kids dress themselves can aid them in being confident about who they are. It can help boost their self-worth and self-esteem.
We give power to kids for those who genuinely want to become what they want when we allow them to pick their outfits. We provide them with the chance to explore more about themselves. We will enable them to be just who they are supposed to be.
You might even be surprised when they choose something you would never have picked out for them.
2. Finding voices of their own
Kids tend to feel controlled in so many aspects of their lives. They don’t usually get many choices to make. Adults often decide everything.
This is natural, considering that kids cannot make sound judgments as adults do. This, however, can be detrimental in some ways to our child’s development.
When we do not allow kids to choose certain aspects of their lives, we tell them that their feelings and opinions don’t matter. We are telling them only adults are correct, so only adults can decide.
When we let kids dress themselves, we allow them to have their own opinions. We let them make their own choices, with our guidance as a parent.
We let them know that we respect their opinions, acknowledge them, and that just because they are kids doesn’t mean they don’t matter.
Allowing them to choose their pieces means you are letting them have a say on what they like and don’t like, which can help them make judgments and decisions in life.
3. Decision-making capability
As the saying goes, experience is the best teacher. Sometimes we learn more through experience than when being told about something. So do kids.
Letting kids dress themselves teach them accountability. It teaches them problem-solving skills. It teaches them that everything they decide will bear some consequences.
In winter, it is not a good choice to leave the house wearing just shorts and t-shirts. If it is raining, it is best to put on the raincoat, or you will soak in raindrops. When it is scorching hot in the summer, it is not a good idea to put on jackets or sweaters.
Kids who have opportunities to weigh up their options and make decisions will become even better at doing it later in life. They will slowly figure out what is suitable to wear on what occasion and eventually become better at picking up clothes themselves.
As human beings, we crave freedom. Kids also tend to desire freedom. A small room of freedom to choose what they wear means you have faith in them and that you trust their choices.
This foundation of trust is mutually vital in any relationship, even more so in a parent-child relationship. It is tempting to wanting your kids to look good at every moment. But sometimes in life, as a parent, you need to stand back for a moment and decide what truly matters.
By not letting kids dress themselves, they will miss learning an important lesson.
Do you like these guides on teaching mindfulness to kids? Then you might want to check out this list.
If you're also looking for a nice gift for your little princess, check out the link provided.